OGC NICE 1-1 CELTIC
Veolia Trophy Tournament.
Thursday 16th July 2020
Kick off: 5.15pm U.K.
The SPFL Champions kicked off a triple header of French friendlies against OGC Nice at Lyon’s Veolia trophy tournament in the Groupama Stadium. Last season’s Ligue 1 5th place Nice would be a good test for the Hoops after 131 days of inactivity and have done well under the guidance of manager Patrick Vieira. Another famous name was included in the Nice lineup with French U19 Khépren Thuram whose father Lilian has won so many trophies including the World Cup and European Championship with France as well as playing for Juve and Barca among others.
Celtic and Nice chose to play two strong starting 11 of mostly first team players and both teams took the knee before kick off in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, the black players raising the fist salute. It took only 4 minutes for the Bhoys to take the lead with top marksman Edourd slotting the ball away coolly only to be disallowed by VAR for offside. A decision that was harsh and wrong. It should have stood. Celtic enjoyed spells of dominance without hurting Nice. The passing and movement of the team was slick considering it was the first game back. Despite Celtic’s good showing there is always a lapse lurking in our defence and Nice capatilised when Celtic lost the ball in midfield for the French team to break free. Kasper Dolberg scored a good goal after moving the ball across three bumbling Celtic players to put it away past Bain. Jullien could have done better. 17 minutes played 1-0 Nice. Bain made a great one handed save on 20 minutes but goalmouth action was mainly absent from both sides.
The score remained by half time and Lennon resisted in making any changes for the second half. Celtic should have pulled one back within two minutes of the restart with Edourd setting Christie clear. He done all the hard work breaking away from his man to bare down on the keeper for a one on one and he fluffed his lines putting the ball wide of the left post. The aforementioned players would both have a good shout for Celtics man of the match. Both looked lively, good passing and intelligent movement. Greg Taylor also received pass marks with his performance on the left wing where he showed some good direct play. Celtic were still looking to find a way through and for all the positive they did have negatives with misplaced passes and sluggish play.
All change on 60 minutes as it looked like it had been agreed by both management teams to change it up. The two starting 11s were replaced by those on the bench. This meant 30 minutes action for the Celtic fringe players and were keen to show what they’ve got. On came Klimala, Soro, Ntcham, Bolingoli, Bitton Henderson and Karamoko Dembele among others. They put on a good show and didn’t disappoint, also managing to bring the scores level. Klimala who was looking sharp and alert got his rewards by closing in on Nice goalie Yoan Cardinale, he robbed him on the edge of the box and calmly rounded Cardinale and put it in the net. 72 minutes 1-1. The final minutes were not too eventful but was good to get to the end with no injuries. We will take this performance as a good start to stretch the limbs and get playing time for the bench players. A good natured game that was worth while.
NICE: Doulberg, Gouiri, Sacko, Lees, Melou(C), Thuram, Makengo, Kamara, Pelmard, Bambu, Pionnier, Benetiz.
CELTIC: Bain, Jullien, Taylor, Brown, Christie, Edourd, Elyounoussi, Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest.
OLYMPIQUE LYON 2-1 CELTIC
Veolia Trophy Tournament
Groupama Stadium Lyon
Saturday 18th July 2020
Kick off: 7.45pm
Celtic took to the field with an experimental 11 against a very strong Lyon side that was chosen with the upcoming Champions League game in mind against Juventus in which they lead 1-0 in the last 16. Two Ex Celts were in the Lyon team with Jason Denayer in defence and Moussa Dembele leading the strike force. Celtic were pinning their hopes on Patrik Klimala up top after a good showing against Nice. Lyon donated 5,000 tickets to local hospital and frontline workers which has to be commended in a time when football fans are robbed for everything clubs can bleed them for.
Lyon took no time settling in when they went 1-0 up on 4 minutes and it was executed beautifully by yours truly Moussa. A sweet cross from the right by Marcelo floated into the box saw three Celtic defenders watch it go over the heads to be met by the rising figure of Dembele who directed it into the net with his head. Celtic looked shook to the core and you would have expected the floodgates to open. Thankfully they didn’t and the fringe players began to find their feet. Some promise was shown in movement and passing but this was a tough ask against a brilliant Lyon side. Klimala was holding the ball up well but he had no help in the final third. He did break through on the 25th minute and a combination tackle by Denayer and Marcelo brought the Polish striker to the ground, going down inside the box. Referee immediately called a penalty and then decided to look at VAR. Celtic were done for the second game by the technology as the ref pulled back for a free kick on the edge of the box. It was the right call this time.
One player who is not making a good name for himself is Bolingoli. He looks bereft of any ideas of basic defending. With minutes remaining of the first half he allowed his man Dubois to get past him to play a nice ball in for Memphis Depay to score with a back heel flick. 42 minutes 2-0. A few others did shine in this tough test. Old heads Ntcham was good as was Bitton who is always dependable when called upon. Also very pleasing to see 18 year old Scott Robertson putting on a good display and we look to have found a new midfield dynamo in Ismaila Soro who was signed for £2m in January from Israeli side Bnei Yehuda. He didn’t look out of place against a top Lyon midfield where he showed bundles of energy and very thoughtful play.
For the second game 60 minutes rang the changes and saw the first team Celts take their regular spots. On came Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Edourd and Co. This was a more even match and Celtic regulars looked up for it. We pulled one goal back albeit too late to make inroads. It came on 87 minutes when Forrest literally slid a ball through to Moi Elyounoussi who made in from the left and rolled past the Lyon defence to set himself up for a beautiful goal from outside the box and into the left corner of the goal. Another good run out and although this ‘Prestigious’ (ahem) trophy slipped through our fingers the importance was on seeing players get their run out.
LYON: Lopes, Dubois, Marcelo, Denayer, Cornet, Mendes, Guimarães, Reine-Adélaide, Depay(C), Aouar, Dembele.
CELTIC: Bain, Elhamed, Bitton, Welsh, Bolingoli, Karamoko, Soro, Ntcham(C)
Robertson, Henderson, Klimala.